Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam resigns over ‘gleeful and misogynistic’ comments on Elliot Rodger manifesto

Tech start-up chief said that some sections were ‘beautifully written’ – and that Rodger’s sister must have been ‘smokin hot’

A US tech start-up boss has been forced to resign after posting “gleeful and misogynistic” comments on the 141-page manifesto of the California mass-murderer Elliot Rodger, including speculating that “his sister is smokin hot”[sic].

Mahbod Moghadam, the co-founder of annotation service Rap Genius, wrote his own notes on Sunday after the site decided to upload the entire text of “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger”, in which the 22-year-old laid out detailed plans for the massacre on Friday night.

Other users highlighted Moghadam’s posts as inappropriate after he responded to lines like “I can recall the first time I said the name on my lips” with the words “beautifully written”.

And he received particular criticism for one note which read: “Elliot barely mentions his sister Georgia throughout the book! Towards the end, however, he tells us that they did not get along and becomes extremely angry when he hears her having sex with her boyfriend. MY GUESS: his sister is smokin hot[sic].”

The annotations have since been removed, but Rap Genius CEO and co-founder Tom Lehman has issued a statement saying Moghadam has resigned after “compromising the Rap Genius mission”.

Lehman wrote: “Yesterday the Rap Genius community annotated Elliot Rodger’s manifesto on News Genius. Because this tragedy is still so raw, there was internal debate as to whether this document belonged on the site at all. Ultimately we decided that it was worthy of close reading – understanding the psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves.

“However, Mahbod Moghadam, one of my co-founders, annotated the piece with annotations that not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny. All of which is contrary to everything we’re trying to accomplish at Rap Genius.”

Before he stood down, Moghadam told Gawker: “I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up.

“I got carried away with making the annotations and making any comment about his sister was in horrible taste, thankfully the rap genius community edits out my poor judgement, I am very sorry for writing it.”

He later apologised on Twitter – but that was not enough to appease “Lehman, investors and others internally” who, according to reports on the tech news website Re/Code, “actually asked him to leave the company”.

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